A Guide to Using an Air Rifle Scope to Improve Accuracy

21st Apr 2021

No matter how you use an air rifle, with a scope or without, while hunting, target shooting, or plinking, it's going to be fun. But if you want to ensure you hit the target every single time, you need an air rifle scope.

Yes, you can get a scope for air rifles. They aren't only used for true hunting rifles.

With a scope, your air rifle accuracy will dramatically increase, so long as you know how to zero it in. It's a simple process, but you need to know how to do it properly.

Wondering why you need to get an air rifle scope and how to choose the best one? Want to learn how to dial it in? Keep reading to discover how to take your air rifle shooting to the next level.

When You Need an Air Rifle Scope

Adding a scope to your rifle improves accuracy, helping you see small targets from far away. Here are a few reasons you'll need to pick up a scope.

Target Shooting

Most of the time we use air guns, or firearms, in general, is simply to hit targets. It's a fun form of recreation that has many benefits.

Target shooting can range from plinking, such as shooting cans to hear that satisfying "plink" or setting up paper targets to practice your shooting. But we all know it's far more satisfying to actually hit the target.

When you add a scope to your air rifle, you will be able to hit the target more consistently, and from long range, making you a better shooter. Plus, you'll have more fun every time you shoot.


Air rifles are used widely for small game hunting (and even some big game). As you may already know, small animals are skittish. They don't want you coming close to them. When hunting squirrels, for example, they are often high up in a tree where they feel safe.

You'll need to place your shot from considerable distances. A scope is the only reliable way to do this. Improving your accuracy also improves the safety of hunting.

Pest Control

Air rifles are one of the most effective, and most enjoyable forms of pest control. Whether you need to stop rabbits, squirrels, moles, or anything other varmints from destroying your yard, you can do so easily using a rifle scope.

It allows you to set up further away, sit tight and allow the animal to come out. Keep your yard pest-free using a scope.

Competition Practice

Looking to become a competitive shooter? Then you need all the help you can get. Using a scope you will be able to shoot much more consistently.

Types of Air Rifle Scopes

When searching for a scope to mount on your air rifle, you'll notice two main types. You can use both a fixed scope or a variable scope, depending on your preferences and goals.

Depending on the type of shooting you plan to do, you might opt for a scope with a larger a smaller field of view, or how wide the magnification is. A hunter who may be searching for a moving target will prefer a scope with a wider field of view.

And while you can typically mount a firearm scope to your air rifle, it's best not to. Air rifle scopes are designed to handle the heavy recoil that air rifles experience, relieving and protecting your eyes.

Fixed Scopes

A fixed scope is one that has constant magnification. It is always fixed to the same level of magnification and cannot be changed. These are easier to use and very consistent, but you may need multiple scopes if you plan to shoot at varying ranges.

Variable Scopes

The variable scope is just the opposite of a fixed scope. With a variable scope, you can adjust the level of magnification depending on your target and location.

How to Mount and Zero an Air Rifle Scope

Once you purchase your scope, you'll need to mount it and zero it in. Zeroing in your scope is the process of aligning the scope with the position that your pellet strikes. You may hear it referred to as sighting in your scope or dialing in your scope.

Mounting Your Scope

Many scopes will come with the appropriate mounting hardware to connect to your rifle. If it doesn't, you may need to purchase separate hardware.

Your air rifle most likely contains an 11mm dovetail groove on the top. If you're lucky, all you have to do is place your scope mounts onto the groove and fasten the screw. Don't completely tighten until you get the correct scope placement.

Test the scope and adjust for eye relief, which is the distance from the back of the scope to your eye. Find a comfortable position, and tighten the scope mount.

Zero In Your Scope

To get started zeroing in your scope, set up a near-range air gun target, say 10 yards. Ensure a safe backstop is behind the target.

The first step is seeing where your current alignment is. Take a few shots to see where your pellets hit when you aim for the center.

You'll then adjust your windage and elevation dials on your scope. Each marking on the dial typically represents 1/4 inch at 100 yards. So if your shot was 1 inch high at 100 yards, you'd need to adjust by turning your dial 4 times. If it's 1 inch high at 10 yards, you'd need to turn the dial 40 times.

If it sounds complicated, you could just adjust by sight rather than by calculation. Assuming you have plenty of pellets to spare, you can make an adjustment after each shot or two until you are hitting the center of the target at 10 yards.

Once you've zeroed your rifle in at 10 yards, do the same for your ideal shooting distance. Most people choose 30 yards. Simply place your target at 30 yards and repeat the process.

Your rifle and scope will now be accurate at 30 yards. When shooting at a closer target, just adjust your aim a little bit.

Air Rifle Scope Tips

Accurate and reliable air rifle shooting also depends on the type of pellets used. Different pellets will perform differently in your gun.

If you plan to take your gun hunting, it's best to use the same pellets that you practice with. Or if you purchase new pellets, be sure to practice in a safe location before hunting, so you can make scope adjustments if needed.

Making the Most of Your Air Rifle

Sure it's fun to use an air rifle without a scope, particularly in your backyard or in other close range environments. But if you are looking for reliability and improved accuracy, you need an air rifle scope.

This is especially true if you are trying to rid your yard of pests or if you'd like to bring home some dinner. Take your shooting game to the next level by picking up a scope today